Pakistan to send troops to Saudi Arabia to train and advise

Troops 'will not be employed outside' the kingdom, said army's press wing
Pakistan to send troops to Saudi Arabia to train and advise
Pakistani soldiers keep vigil next to a newly fenced border fencing along Afghan border at Kitton Orchard Post in Pakistans North Waziristan tribal agency. Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
By Reuters
Sat 17 Feb 2018 01:15 PM

Pakistan is sending troops to ally Saudi Arabia on a "training and advise mission", the military said, three years after it decided against sending soldiers to join the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

The exact role the troops will play was unclear, but a statement from the army's press wing stressed they "will not be employed outside" the kingdom.

Pakistan's retired army chief, General Raheel Sharif, commands the new Saudi-led Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism, though it was not immediately clear whether the new troops would participate in that coalition.

Saudi Arabia had asked fellow Sunni-majority Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops for the Yemen campaign to stem the influence of Shi'ite Iran in what appears to be proxy war between the Gulf's two dominant powers.

Pakistan's parliament voted to remain neutral to avoid being pulled into a sectarian regional power struggle, in part because the country shares a border with Iran and has a sizeable Shi'ite minority.

Pakistani military analyst retired Brigadier Shaukat Qadir said talks involving sending troops to Saudi Arabia had been ongoing for some time.

"Now, apparently, for whatever reason, the decision has been taken," he said.

There are already about 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia, in part to guard Islamic holy sites, but they are not combat troops. 

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